North Carolina took care of business.

It’s hard for a 1-seed to really “win” in the opening round. If you take any amount of time to pull away from a 16-seed, it invites questions. If you lose, you’ll be remembered forever. Even if you roll over your opponent, you won’t get your flowers; congrats for doing what was expected. The best a 1-seed can hope for is to do what was expected of it. With an 90-62 beatdown of Wagner on Thursday, North Carolina did exactly that.

The Tar Heels earned a No. 1 seed after a strong close to the season that included a sweep of Duke and a run to the ACC Tournament title game. They went into the NCAA Tournament viewed as a legitimate threat to win it all. So far, so good in that bid.

With the win, Carolina will advance to the second round, where it’ll face 9-seed Michigan State on Saturday. The Spartans beat 8-seed Mississippi State 69-51 Thursday morning. North Carolina will shift its focus quickly, but that doesn’t mean we have to just yet.

Here are 3 takeaways from Carolina’s opening-round win.

Carolina bigs dominate

The directive from Carolina was clear: get the ball inside where the Tar Heels had a significant advantage. Armando Bacot, the most prolific big man in school history, was everywhere right from the opening jump.

Bacot had 14 points and 11 rebounds in the first half. He made 5 of his 8 shots and got to the free throw line 5 times. Bacot was responsible for 8 of the Tar Heels’ first 12 points. He finished the game with 20 points and 15 boards, including 5 on the offensive glass. He also had a block and a steal in 30 minutes.

Carolina also got 16 points and 10 rebounds from Jae’Lyn Withers, who came off the bench and played 21 productive minutes. It was his first double-digit scoring effort since Jan. 17 and just his seventh career double-double.

The Tar Heels dominated the paint 48-20. They owned the boards (43-24) and scored 17 second-chance points off of 13 offensive rebounds.

Cadeau takes a backseat

In his first career NCAA Tournament game, rising freshman guard Elliot Cadeau took a backseat to his teammates.

RJ Davis took 13 shots and scored 22 points. Bacot took 13 shots. Cormac Ryan got off 11, scoring 13 points. Withers was fed more than usual. Meanwhile, Cadeau went 0-for-2 in 19 scoreless minutes. He had only 3 assists and 4 turnovers.

Cadeau reclassified to come to Chapel Hill a year early and played a central role in Carolina’s bounceback season. He earned ACC All-Freshman recognition after averaging 7.6 points, 4.2 assists, and a 2.29 assist-to-turnover ratio that ranked as the fourth-best in school history for a freshman.

His shooting has been shakey, particularly from deep. But his playmaking has provided the perfect counterpart to Davis’s scoring in the starting unit.

Carolina was still plus-15 with Cadeau on the floor, but an 0-for performance with more turnovers than assists would be problematic against a team like Michigan State.

What’s next?

To that end, how will North Carolina coach Hubert Davis approach Saturday’s matchup with Michigan State? The Tar Heels will need to be able to space the floor a bit more against the Spartans, who won’t be pushed over inside the way Wagner was. MSU coach Tom Izzo has Carson Cooper (6-11, 240) and Mady Sissoko (6-9, 250) to throw at Bacot inside to keep him off his spots.

All eyes should be on Cadeau’s follow-up performance. He’ll need to be more effective against the Spartans for the Tar Heels to advance.

Of course, Carolina is the 1-seed for a reason. It can afford to go right at MSU and try to play inside-out. It’ll need shooters to knock down shots. Davis hit 4 of his 7 triples on Thursday. Cormac Ryan hit 2 of his 6. Everyone else combined to take just 5 3s.

Now that sports betting in North Carolina is legal, fans can place wagers on North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament.  The Heels should open as a betting favorite at ESPN BET. (A line had not been set at the time of publication.)